Attracting Individual Support of Byways
According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, individuals accounted for 75 percent ($187.92 billion) of all charitable giving in 2004, with tsunami relief estimated at only one-half of one percent of the giving that year. The Association also noted that bequests made in 2004 totaled $19.8 billion, an increase of 9.2 percent over 2003.
Soliciting support for a byway organization from individuals requires some analysis and planning to answer the question: Why would Mr., Miss, Ms. or Mrs. John Q. Public want to be a member of my byway organization?
If you already have individual members, start your research by asking them why they joined your organization. Determine how prevalent their interests and needs are and develop programs that might encourage others with similar interests and needs to become members.
Coordinating focus groups with prospective new members can also produce valuable insight into individual interests and needs that might be fulfilled by the byway. Ask participants to identify prospects for you to contact.
Some byways do not pursue individual solicitation for funding, feeling that individuals are already inundated with requests from other charitable organizations.
In some cases the individual-recruiting success stories shared here have been developed by other types of organizations, but hold merit for byway organizations.
The byway representatives suggest developing a policy for receiving gifts from individuals of real estate, stocks, and cars or other hard goods. For example, the federal law regarding the value of a car donated to a non-profit organization has changed and lowered the value of that type of gift for donors and receivers.
Ideas to attract individuals with accompanying financial or in-kind support for the byway organization include:
In one community, an after-work get-together, sometimes called Business After Hours, involves a wine and cheese buffet and jazz band for a $20 ticket. The event makes about $3,000. In some areas, these types of events are held monthly and, in addition to financial revenue, offer networking opportunities.
Several byway representatives partner with artists who donate artwork or the rights to reproduce their art on items, such as mugs, t-shirts, postcards and calendars, for retail sale. In one instance, the byway organization purchased an artist’s work at a gallery, negotiated the rights to use the art and auctioned the painting off at what has become an annual fundraising auction event that includes items made or donated by byway organization members. See also “Making Auctions Work Best for Corporate Sponsors and Fundraisers” – a best practices article by Jon Carson, May 2005.
Board Member Commitment
Some nonprofit organizations ask or require board members to personally donate to the organization. This desired commitment by board members encourages the organization to carefully solicit board members who are financially strong in themselves and well-placed with their peers in the community. The personal financial commitment by board members strengthens the organization’s requests of other funders by showing a strong buy-in to the organization’s mission by board members. One nonprofit organization has successfully raised as much as $90,000 in board donations. If there are individuals who possess expertise, contacts or other resources that could benefit the byway organization but are not individuals who would personally donate, these individuals can be asked to serve in an advisory board capacity. Learn more about board development
Bring-Your-Checkbook dinner parties take place with guests willing to support a community project. They are invited to attend a dinner that is clearly identified as a fundraising opportunity for a cause that should be attractive to a well-targeted audience. In some areas, the minimum donation is $1,000. The evening can raise large sums all at once or secure long-term personal pledges for funding.
Direct Appeal Letters
Individuals are often included in direct mail fundraising letter campaigns. Learn more
Some byways place free-will donation boxes in strategic locations to spontaneously attract cash and coins.
Many byway organizations hold an annual fundraising event, be it a members-only, invitation-only or public welcome dinner, pass-the-hat picnic, or an awards banquet into which the winners’ alumni, fellow club members or family pay their way. Learn more
Events can attract individuals who pay a participation or spectator fee.
Some byway organizations have developed, or are considering developing, a Friends group. The National Parks Conservation Association and the Friends of Libraries offer tips on how to develop a friends group.
One byway organization made $3,100 after expenses, not counting staff time, on the 10th edition of its annual golf tournament. Some nonprofits, such as Red Cross and others, are able to make tens of thousands of dollars on such an event. Learn more: look for the How to Run a Successful Golf Tournament Guide on the left side of the website at Hole in One International.
Grocery Gift Cards
One byway representative at the sustainability roundtable sessions told of a church organization that raised $15,000 in one year by partnering with a local grocery store chain to sell grocery gift cards of various denominations.
Leave a Legacy®is a campaign by the National Committee on Planned Giving to inspire people to make bequests to a charity that is meaningful to the donor. Leave a Legacy does not solicit gifts for any particular organization; it encourages bequests to charities that donors deem deserving. The Association of Fundraising Professionals conducted a study on the “Determinants of U.S. Donor Behavior: The Case of Bequests.” (PDF)
Asking individuals for a matching donation already in-hand helps foster a sense of contributing to the successful completion of project.
Gift Annuity Programs: The Basics for Effective Management – a
best practices article by Robin R. Ganzert, Ph.D., February 2005